Message From Co-Chairs

Children and youth across the Commonwealth need our help and support to become caring and productive members of our society. As Co-Chairs of this Special Commission, we welcome your input as we work together with our 36 members to craft recommendations on how best to support the healthy development of children and youth when they are in and out of school. In addition to the Commission meetings about this critical issue, we intend to hold at least nine public hearings across the Commonwealth. We are aware that not everyone will be able to attend and and invite you to use this blog to communicate with us about your issues and concerns. We look forward to your comments.

Posting Rules and Etiquette

We welcome and value your feedback and ask that you do the following in order to post your comments to this blog. 1. To provide your first and last name and the town or city in which you live to help us track the feedback statewide. 2. To label your comments so we can direct your feedback to the right Commission Work Group. The Commission's three Work Groups are: 1) Information and Access; 2) Quality, Workforce and Professional Development and 3) Sustainability. If your comments cut across all three Work Groups, please label that as "Crosscutting Issue". 3. To add constructive and professional comments - rude or profane comments will be deleted. Thanks and we look forward to hearing from you.

Friday, May 23, 2008

House Increases Funding for After School Programs

Since our last blog entry, the Senate and House Committee on Ways and Means, the Joint Committees on Education and Children, Youth and Families as well as other members of the Massachusetts Legislature have been examining the Special Commission's report and its recommendations in advance of the FY09 budget debate. This internal process allowed elected officials and their staff the opportunity to better understand the value of afterschool in the lives of the Commonwealth's children and youth.

As a result of this thoughtful process, the Massachusetts House of Representatives finalized their budget for FY09 on May 3. It is exciting to share that several statewide initiatives that fund afterschool programs saw important increases. This is particularly exciting considering the current fiscal climate in the state.

Representative Marie St. Fleur, the Vice-Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Co-Chair of the Massachusetts Special Commission on After School and Out of School Time, was successful in her efforts to increase funding for the Afterschool and Out-of-School Time (ASOST) Program Quality grant from $2M last year to $5M this year.

The Shannon Grant Program which provides funding for afterschool programs as part of its gang prevention efforts, saw a $2M increase from last year. Now $13M is available for funding statewide instead of $11M.

The Department of Public Health's Youth Violence Prevention grant also received more funding - $3M this year versus $2M from last year.

The Extended Learning Time Initiative also received more funding in the House budget. Funded last year at $13M, now $17.5M is available statewide to continue to help schools lengthen their school day.

The Senate passed their version of the budget on May 22. Additional information will be forthcoming about the status of the above afterschool program line items finalized in the Senate budget next week.

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